MF Needs an Intern

Madame Fromage HQ

Dear readers, I spend a lot of time alone in my Cheese Command Center, sitting in this chair. After five years of running my own little online dairy empire, it’s time to open a window and let in some air. I’m looking for a bird, a plane…an intern!  Although this is an unpaid position, I am willing to trade your time for my cheese secrets, offer mentorship to an aspiring blogger or cookbook author, or help you feed your passion in some other way (read: you can raid my fridge, my bookshelf, my brain).

Interested?

Internship Description

Madame Fromage is looking for a spring 2015 intern to help develop strategy and promotion for a forthcoming book. She needs a big picture thinker who can also whittle away at little details, like researching promotional avenues, creating a list of possible collaborators, and assisting with the launch of a book trailer and splash page. This spring 2015 position will play a crucial role during a transitional time; after 5 years of presenting all things cheese, Madame’s new project is all about cocktails. As an intern, you’ll be involved in shaping how this Philadelphia cheese blogger adds new dimension to her site and reaches out to a new community of nibblers and sippers. The ideal candidate will be social-media savvy, research-oriented, creative, and (hopefully) dairy curious.

Hours and start/end date: flexible — ideally Jan/Feb thru May/June, 2015.

Setting: flexible — your place or mine.

How to Apply

This is an unpaid position with cheese perks and your choice of  a) course credit at a college or university that you attend and/or b) mentorship in writing, blogging, or developing a book project. To apply, please email tenayadarlington@gmail.com with a resumé and a letter of interest.

Deadline: Nov. 26, 2015

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Live! Birchrun Hills Kickstarter

The Miller Family of Birchrun Hills Farm Chester Springs, PA June 30, 2014

Sue, Ken, Randy, and Jesse Miller       Photo courtesy of Albert Yee

If you attended the Cheese Ball in January, or if you read about it, hopefully you remember Sue Miller. She’s a local cheesemaker and friend who is working to build a cheese facility on her farm in Chester County, Pennsylvania. The Cheese Ball raised $5,000 as a first step toward financing the project. Now, Sue’s Kickstarter — an online fundraising campaign — is live. Yes, I’m asking you to make a donation.

Why You Should Support This Kickstarter

Sue and her family make some of Pennsylvania’s best raw-milk cheese. In fact, it’s so good, she can’t keep up with demand. Currently, she rents a space several miles from her house, but it’s not big enough to help her meet demand. And she has two college-age sons who want to join the family business — a rare thing in dairyland. In short, to become sustainable, the Millers need to grow their business. And getting a bank loan when you are a dairy farmer is next to impossible.

This campaign (#raisethecave) is a creative way to raise a cheese cave — and there are some amazing rewards.

$50 donation – you can name a calf!

$100 donation – you will receive a box of Birchrun Hills 4 signature cheeses

$200 donation – you’re invited to dinner at the farm

$250 donation – your name will be engraved on a brick in the cheese cave

And there’s more…including a private cheese making lesson ($500) and a painting by Mike Geno ($1000)

Birchrun Blue, Photo courtesy of Albert Yee

Birchrun Blue, Photo courtesy of Albert Yee

 

How You Can Get Involved

Join us in spreading the word via social media (Birchrun Hills Farm is on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram). Tell your cheese-loving friends! Let’s turn Thanksgiving into Cheesegiving!

And come out and meet Sue! We’ve got two events planned this weekend, and she’s always at the Headhouse Square Farmers’ Market in Philadelphia on Sundays.

Come to Our Launch Party Events!

276_Birchrun_Blue_

1. Friday, November 14, 6-8 p.m.

Birchrun Hills Kickstarter Party & Studio Soiree

with Sue Miller (@birchrunhills) and Mike Geno (@mikegenostudio)

Viking Mill Studio Building,1026 E. Hagert St., Philadelphia 19125

Come nibble, sip, and see Mike’s new painting of Birchrun Blue!

Help spread the word by Instagramming Sue’s cheese and Mike’s portraits!

Lets Raise a Cheese Cave

2. Saturday, November 15, 6-8 p.m

Birchrun Hills Farm Cheese Party at Occasionette

with Sue Miller (@birchrunhills) and Madame Fromage (@mmefromage)

Occasionette, 1825 E. Passyunk Ave., Philadelphia 19148

Sample cheese, learn how to build a cheese board for the holidays, peruse lots of cool gifts!

Help us spread the word by Instagramming photos of Sue and her cheeses at Occasionette!

Last Year's Cheese Party at Occasionette

Last Year’s Cheese Party at Occasionette

 

On Writing a Collaborative Cookbook

Test Cocktails

In the last four months, I’ve spent a lot of time shaking and stirring. I’ve also grown very attached to Google+ and the Google hangout function. It’s how my brother, André Darlington, and I wrote a cocktail book together with 900 miles between us. It won’t appear on shelves until Fall 2015 Spring 2016, and — for the moment — it doesn’t even have an official title. But it’s fini!

We wrote the book in five months — a blur of eras and lemon twists, of research and recipe testing. Now it’s time to sit back with a Jasmine, my new cocktail of choice, and reflect for a moment. I’ve gone from writing alone (novels in cabins) to writing with others (my last collaboration was a cheese book). Alas, I am not the solitary mouse I used to be, thanks to artisan dairy and velvety mixed drinks.

Here’s a little recap of how the most recent book collaboration came together.

Andre's Kitchen In Madison, WI

Andre’s Kitchen In Madison, WI

My Kitchen in Philadelphia, PA -- I'm Making Drunken Horchata

My Kitchen in Philadelphia, PA — I’m Making Drunken Horchata

Step 1: We Wrote a Proposal

First, we studied up on the market. Originally, we wanted to write a book about cheese and spirits, since I am cheese obsessed and André is wine-and-spirits obsessed. But our publisher (Running Press) shot back a request for a cocktail book. We had one week to reframe our proposal. Together, we studied the enormous list of cocktail books and brainstormed how we might approach the subject with a fresh eye. André developed the table of contents while I made room in my cheese library for a new trove of books.

Cocktail Bookshelf

Step 2: We Created a Timeline for Writing and Recipe Testing

We  started our collaboration with a 10-day “cocktail camp-out” at Andre’s place. Each morning, we shot out of bed and planned out our day on his kitchen chalkboard, then we slugged back some green juice and hit the books. In the afternoon, we recipe-tested. We worked with two great bartenders to brush up on our skills. Our goal was to drink our way through cocktail history, one era at a time, and to write a book with flavor notes, historic context, and pairing ideas for the home enthusiast.

Cocktails have always been central to our lives — from sipping them after work, to serving them up with snacks on the weekends as part of cocktail hour (a favorite pastime). We had a lot of recipes in our repertoire, but we wanted to do more than just gather up a cocktail canon. We wanted to serve up a story.

Cocktail Work Day 3

Step 3: We Used Google Docs and Google Hangouts to Meet and Write Every Day

Our manuscript started as a single Google document called “Drinks Organized” and became a folder full of documents. We created a document for “sidebars,” a document for “cocktail adjectives,” and even a document called “notes graveyard” for cuts and revisions. The Google hangout function allowed us to face-time and write collaboratively on the same document. It was fabulous to be able write and talk at the same time, often while mixing drinks or fixing lunch in our respective kitchens.

Andre at his laptop

Step 4: We Devised a Budget, Then Went Overboard

Recipe-testing was our biggest expense. Early on, we decided not to approach liquor companies for samples, so that meant setting up bars in our respective homes, half-way across the country from one another. We spent $4k testing 200+ recipes — a significant chunk of our advance. Looking back, we could have worked more efficiently to develop specialized  home bars that didn’t overlap. However, each of us wanted to test all the recipes so we could compare notes. We have enough booze to write a second book. And then some. Let’s just say, our neighbors have not gone thirsty.

Martini Notes

Step 5: We Discovered That Two Minds and Two Mouths are Better Than One

Before we started this project, we heard many tales of collaborative book projects gone awry. One can just imagine the scenarios: writer A is overly critical of writer B, writer B does more work than writer A. Andre and I grew up writing family newsletters on our mother’s old Smith Corona typewriter, and somehow that taught us to be both brutally honest and yet exuberant toward one another. We relied on one another through every part of the writing process — for word choice (“what’s another word for “tawny?”) and for direction (“So, really, what should the first line of the introduction be?”).

Sure, we had our differences of opinion at times, but together we created a better book than either of us could have written separately. And, yes, we will drink to that.

Back in 2009, when we were drinking...tea?

Back in 2009, when we were drinking…tea?

 

A Cheese Spa at Woodloch

Woodloch cheese and robes

What could be more decadent than standing around in bathrobes, drinking wine and sampling cheese? That was my Friday night at the Lodge at Woodloch, a beautiful spa in the Poconos that hosts a monthly culinary guest. (Yes, I have blotted out the eyes of those to whom I fed triple cremes. I don’t want you to hate them too much.)

Woodloch is the sort of place where you can wear your slippers into the woods or eat s’mores for breakfast, which is to say that it’s decadent — an adult summer camp with an emphasis on relaxation. This year, Travel + Leisure listed it among the world’s best spas (#3) , an unexpected boon for a remote oasis near the wee town of Hawley, PA — mere minutes from one of the country’s best creameries, Calkins Creamery.

What better place to let your cheese relax?

Cheese TrayFireplace at Woodloch

In my weekend cheese valise, I ferried six unearthly beauties from Di Bruno Bros. Do you want to know what they were? Of course, I requested the most decadent hunks. Woodloch’s Executive Chef Josh Tomson pushed our pairings over the edge with thick-cut bacon and chocolate truffles, and sommelier Leslie Britt broke out bubbly, beer, Malbec, and Port so that guests could explore the most stunning flavor combinations.

Here was our Cheese 101 menu:

 

Fresh raw-milk ricotta

with blueberries and strawberries

 

St. Stephen’s (triple crème)

with Tait Farm blueberry jam and Di Bruno Bros. Cinnful Cocoa Pecans

 

Epoisses

with thick-cut bacon

 

Montgomery’s Cheddar

with Woodloch cranberry chutney or pickles

 

Pecorino Romano

with a drizzle of truffle honey

 

Valdéon

with dark chocolate truffles

Woodloch Madame Fromage TastingWoodloch Cheese 101 class

I recommend that you recreate at least one of these pairings at home while wearing a fluffy bathrobe. Let it be the weekend favorite: thick-cut bacon dunked into Epoisses.

I selected the pairing to illustrate how this style of cheese tastes rich and meaty, thanks to its brandy-washed rind — a process developed by a very austere band of monks. The Trappists probably never imagined people in robes eating their creation…at least, not fluffy white robes.

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Check out the calendar at Woodloch for more culinary weekends. When I return, I’ll let you know so that you can begin packing. In fact, next time I’ll stop in Honesdale for a few wheels of Brie-like Noblette — the chefs and I made a quick run to see the creamery after our tasting class. Calkins Creamery cheeses are regularly featured on the spa menu.

A quick visit to Calkins Creamery with the chefs from Woodloch

A quick visit to Calkins Creamery with the chefs from Woodloch

Chester County Cheese Weekend

Bircrhrun Fat Cat

November 8 & 9, 2014 – CANCELED!

Hey, Philadelphia! You know how you love cheese and aggression? How about coming out to Kimberton, PA with me on Saturday, November 8, 2014 to watch a Cheesemonger Throwdown? You can nibble local cheeses and drink Troeg’s Beer on the sidelines as you watch cheesemongers from Salumeria, Di Bruno Bros., and other dairy venues compete to build Cheez Whiz art, answer cheese Quizzo questions, and create the perfect cheese bite.

Tickets ($35) to the throwdown include snacks and drinks — and, for just a few shekels more,  you can add on a cheese gift box or the chance to toss yourself into the ring! Billed as a “Cheesy Social Club,” this event at the Kimberton Arts Center benefits the area’s major cheesemakers’ gild, the Chester County Cheese Artisans.

Want a more pastoral vibe with adorable cows and local cheese? Come out to the Kimberton Fairgrounds on Sunday, November 9 for the Good Food Feast, featuring a cheese cave full of local cheeses, plus a food truck round-up, and a scrapple cook-off. If you want to rub elbows with the dairy glamoratti, like the hotties from Doe Run, Milkhouse Cheese, Stoudt’s and Birchrun Hills Farm, put on your cologne and coveralls!

Tickets ($10) to the Good Food Feast include entry to the Kimberton Fairgrounds, access to the cheese cave, cooking demos, food trucks, baby animals, and more.

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What to Explore in Chester County…

Slyfox Brew Pub, Phoenixville

Victory Brewing, Downingtown

Nectar Restaurant (Berwyn)

Restaurant Alba (Malvern)

Brandywine Valley (links to lodging & attractions)

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Who to Look for in the Crowd…

 

Cheesemaker Elizabeth Stoudt

Cheesemaker Elizabeth Stoudt

Sue Miller of Birchrun Hills Farm

Sue Miller of Birchrun Hills Farm

Chef Feury of Nectar (Judge)

Chef Feury of Nectar (Judge)